Interview: Carly Comando (June 19, 2008)

Carly Comando is a 24 year old musician from Brooklyn, New York who rose to fame along with her then-boyfriend Noah Kalina in 2006 with the Everyday project. Kalina is a photographer who took a picture of himself every day for six years (and he's still doing it). He stitched the thousands of images together to create a 5 minute YouTube video that became a big hit on the Web. Carly's music, also titled Everyday, is a solo piano piece that was the music for the video. It was then licensed by the NBA for it's ubiquitous 2007-8 advertising campaign. It was heard extensively during the 2008 NBA playoffs.

You are 24 years old and have a solo piano piece that's been played all over the world and featured in major advertising campaigns. How does that make you feel?

It makes me feel very weird. When I was a kid, I always thought it would be cool to write jingles for commercials (like Uncle Jesse of Full House) and it's what I wanted to do. The fact that "Everyday" has ended up on 2 well known campaigns without me even trying is just mind blowing. I feel very proud and lucky.

You give confidence to unknown artists who strive to have their music heard. In a nutshell, how did it happen that you wrote a piece t hat was chosen for such a well known advertising campaign?

I wrote "Everyday" for Noah Kalina. At the time we were dating, and he wanted me to compose a song that would fit his photo video project. Fast forward to now, his YouTube video has been a viral hit and because of this, bigger companies have caught wind and realized the power of music to make a commercial that much better. I didn't try to get my song out there, the NBA and DEKA (a German bank) found me.

"Everyday" was performed to fit the length of Kalina's photography project. Do you have any other arrangements of the song? If not, do you plan on writing other arrangements?"

I try not to play "Everyday" on the piano that much. It still amazes me how successful it has been and I just want to leave it alone. I did write a different version of it, which will be on my upcoming album "One Take."

Have you written any other solo piano pieces and do you have any plans for a full length solo piano album?

I do, and it will be out soon.

I'm sure you have heard that the main theme from "Everyday" has the same chord progression as Philip Glass's Truman Sleeps song from the film "The Truman Show." Were you aware of that when you wrote it? Do you like Philip Glass?

I don't even think I had ever seen The Truman Show in full until after Noah's video came out. A lot of youtube comments were "this is Philip Glass," etc. I was really confused and stressed out, because that's the last thing I wanted to hear. So, after someone posted what song "Everyday" sounded like, Noah and I immediately went to listen to it. We were shocked. This question has been asked a lot.. and it's really hard to answer it convincingly, because the 2 songs have a similar melody line. I wasn't aware of the song "Truman Sleeps" at all, but they do sound similar. All I can say to that is "Everyday" is my own piece, written for Noah, in front of Noah. I've had many freakouts concerning this, because I've had a really hard time answering mean and rude e-mails that don't care what I have to say, anyway. From what I've heard, and after finally watching the Truman Show, Philip Glass is a great composer.

What are your major influences for your solo piano work?

Whatever happens during my day is an influence for my solo piano work.

You wrote on your myspace page that you don't sight read well and you play by ear. How well trained are you in classical piano and music theory? How many years did you take lessons?

I was trained with Isabelle Eridita in Long Island up until I hit puberty. I cheated a lot, and she would play me what song I would be learning and I'd just memorize it right away. I had a really hard time sitting down and reading music, so I would always just start writing my own songs at home. I used to play Les Mes for my parents and other songs that they liked instead of practicing my lessons. I stopped taking lessons around 14 or 15, and then in college took up music theory. It was amazing and during that time I taught myself the clarinet and bass clarinet in concert band. It helped me to re-learn theory and forced me to read music again. I was a big nerd then, but to be honest, I've forgotten a lot of the technical lingo now. I have all my books, though!

You are in a band, Slingshot Dakota. There aren't many bands these days who feature a keyboardist. Do you miss not having guitar players?

Not at all. I think that making a huge racket with an instrument so "classical" is pretty cool. People see me take my keyboard out at shows and think that we're going to be a quiet boring band, and then they see us and freak out.

Has your success with "Everyday" had an impact on attendance at your band's shows?

Somewhat. Slingshot Dakota is an indie band influenced by punk and hardcore, and we cling to a very special underground scene. A lot of our shows are in kids houses, community centers and art spaces, instead of bars. We want our music to be accessible to kids of all ages, so we avoid big clubs as much as we can. With that said, "everyday" has become so popular and a lot of people who enjoy that song have never experienced music outside of a traditional venue. There have been many times where fans have e-mailed me that they were coming to a show, and then when that date passes, I get another e-mail saying "I went to the address of your show but it was a house."

With all your success, does your music now support you financially or do you have a day job? If the latter, what do you do for your day job?

I am an amazing waitress at Penelope. You should eat there! It's like the biggest oasis in New York City, and everyone that I work with is an aspiring actress, musician, something, wi but it's something that I like to keep private.

How was "Everyday" recorded? Real piano, if so which one, or synthesized? Studio or self recorded? If the latter, what equipment did you use?

It was recorded on a Yamaha p80 (they don't make it anymore) on Garageband with an iMac. I had no idea what I was doing. My best friend Phil Douglas then mastered it in his home studio and brought up the levels. All of my solo work is recorded on my Yamaha p80, because the piano sounds are the most authentic without having a real piano around.

There is a lot of reverb in "Everyday" and doesn't sound as bright and unprocessed as many piano pieces I listen to. Was that intentional?

I just worked with what I had. It wasn't intentional.

Do you have any plans to come to Boston to perform solo or with your band? I know a great club that would probably welcome you: have you hard of "The Middle East" nightclub?

Sure! I'll be around there in the fall.. I played at Oxfam Cafe at Tufts University in the Spring, and will probably be back again. I will let you know when we will be around and where!